Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Arizona copper ore

with 38 comments

On November 7th last year I couldn’t help noticing that the people who run the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson have placed some colorful slabs of copper ore at the entrance to their establishment. An accompanying sign says: “These boulders were mined south of Tucson. They are rich in copper minerals: the blue-green is chrysocolla, the blue is azurite, and the green is malachite.”

To take this picture I lay on the ground and aimed at an angle elevated enough to include some of the day’s fleecy clouds.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2017 at 4:47 AM

38 Responses

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  1. Beautiful!


    January 21, 2017 at 5:37 AM

  2. Wow! Such magnificent color. Imagine finding that.


    January 21, 2017 at 7:42 AM

    • I wish I could’ve run across it in the wild. I don’t know if that would even have been possible, as it apparently took mining equipment to excavate these slabs. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum saved me the trouble.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2017 at 7:50 AM

  3. My favourite colours – can I have a chunk please?


    January 21, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    • I wish I could’ve brought a chunk home, but somehow I don’t think the folks at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum would let anyone pick away at their slabs of ore.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2017 at 8:39 AM

      • Such a shame…


        January 21, 2017 at 8:54 AM

        • Now that I think back, the gift shop might have been selling geological samples.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 21, 2017 at 8:58 AM

          • You shall have to go back!


            January 21, 2017 at 11:21 AM

            • I certainly wouldn’t mind. I was eager to go back after the visit two years earlier. From Austin to Tucson is about 900 miles.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 21, 2017 at 11:25 AM

              • Mmmm… OK. A little more than a day trip then. 🙂 And probably too expensive to post me a sample 😉


                January 21, 2017 at 11:29 AM

                • Yes, more than a day trip from here, and much more than that from where you are. Nevertheless, you can set the area that includes Tucson and Phoenix as your goal for a future vacation.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 21, 2017 at 11:38 AM

  4. I love the contrasting colors. My first thought was that you had found a small, exposed hill, but I quickly thought again. Thanks for telling us how you photographed it. I should get down closer. I only feel compelled to go low for small critters or exposed architectural details on ruins. I need to branch out.
    Your flower portraits remind me to spend more time and use patience to get the worthwhile photo. 📷


    January 21, 2017 at 8:54 AM

    • I do look for subjects on hillsides, bluffs, ridges, and the like, that I can isolate against the sky. That’s possible only occasionally, so I spend a good amount of time close to the ground, whether kneeling, sitting, or even lying down. Because the ground is where many of my subjects (including many of the flowers you mentioned) hang out, I usually carry a mat around with me to provide one layer of protection between my body and the hard and prickly things so common in nature.

      You can find some other photo techniques, along with links to examples, at


      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2017 at 9:10 AM

  5. I love the color.

    Sherry Felix

    January 21, 2017 at 10:56 AM

  6. Thanks for showing us yet again how amazing the natural world is. My father would have loved this.


    January 21, 2017 at 11:37 AM

  7. I first thought I was looking at veins of turquoise. I’ve never heard of chrysocolla, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an example of azurite in nature — what a beautiful blue. I like the way you’ve framed the slab against the sky, but I’m wondering if you either framed or cropped an image to show only the stone. It would make a great abstract, like some of the New Zealand beach photos.

    As for the malachite: I didn’t expect one of your photos ever would bring me to tears, but this one did, at least indirectly. Malachite was the name of a boat I spent many, many happy hours on. Back in the day, it had a beautiful green hull; that was the reason for its name when it was purchased and brought back from Pensacola.

    It’s gone through two owners since, and has a white hull now, but it still has the name. When I went online to see if it was around, I found this video. It looks a little worse for wear on the outside, but it was a beautiful boat and sailed like a dream. I don’t know where it is now, but I would bet it still has the silver coin I put under the mast step for luck.


    January 21, 2017 at 9:36 PM

    • What a coincidence that you should have a close association with a boat named Malachite. I’m sorry that the hull no longer matches the name, that the boat’s been through two owners, and that it’s a little the worse for wear now. Oh, the times that were.

      Like you, I thought about cropping in some more to create a complete abstraction. The original is large enough that I can do that and still have a good-sized picture. And yes, I also thought about those colorful abstract photographs from the New Zealand coast.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2017 at 11:36 PM

  8. […] it at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th, eight minutes after I’d photographed the copper ore you saw last time. Rising at the left are the branches of an ocotillo (Fouquieria […]

  9. Outstanding composition!


    January 22, 2017 at 8:27 PM

  10. What a showy hunk of rock! And a terrific shot of it, of course.


    January 23, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    • You win today’s award for uniquity (a unique way of saying uniqueness). I searched Google for “showy hunk of rock” and got no hits. That’s one showy hunk of a phrase.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2017 at 2:19 PM

      • “Rock” and “hunk” just seem to go together, and I’m fairly certain that perception isn’t strictly one that dates me to the era of Rock Hudson’s fame, though I would assume both his male and female fans would agree that word described him excellently. His critics, on the other hand, might think the similarity extended to his acting style, but despite his chiseled looks, I didn’t always find him utterly inanimate. 😉


        January 23, 2017 at 3:48 PM

  11. Great shot Steve!


    January 27, 2017 at 2:10 PM

  12. What a beautiful scenery!


    March 3, 2017 at 2:03 PM

  13. It looks like a giant gemstone…


    June 15, 2017 at 12:01 AM

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